Lifetime Orders Fashion Competition Series

By | Tuesday September 13, 2011 @ 12:58pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Lifetime already has Project Runway and its various offshoots, including the upcoming Project Runway: All Stars and Project Runway: Accessories. Now the cable network has picked up a new unscripted fashion competition series 24 Hour Catwalk with a … Read More »

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Oxygen Picks Up ‘Best Ink’ To Series

By | Thursday September 8, 2011 @ 10:40am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Oxygen has greenlighted Best Ink, a competition reality series featuring 10 tattoo artists competing for a cash prize. The hourlong project, originally announced as in development at Oxygen’s upfront in April, has received an eight-episode order for … Read More »

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After ‘The Voice’, Another Dutch Reality Format Targets U.S. Broadcast Networks

By | Tuesday September 6, 2011 @ 4:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Zodiak USA is hoping that lightning can strike twice, bringing to the U.S. a restaurant reality format that has become a breakout hit on Holland’s RTL4, the same network that launched The Voice. Zodiak will pitch … Read More »

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Another Summer To Forget For The Broadcast Networks

Nellie Andreeva

What do American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, Hell’s Kitchen, Big Brother, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent and Wipeout have in common? They are broadcast TV’s biggest reality franchises of the past decade. And they all launched in the summer. Summer used to be a time for the networks to try out innovative reality formats that had never been done on the Big 4 broadcast nets (ballroom dancing or singing competitions, shows about castaways on an island or strangers locked in a house) or had been gone from primetime for a long time (game shows). Now the broadcast networks are throwing on retreads of over-exposed formats from June through August, so it’s no surprise that nothing has stuck since Wipeout launched on ABC in June 2008. A slew of newcomers came and went over the past three months: ABC’s Expedition Impossible, Take the Money & Run, Karaoke Battle USA and 101 Ways To Leave a Game Show; CBS’ Same Name, NBC’s Love In the Wild and the similar It’s Worth What?; and Buried Treasure on Fox. The only new offering on broadcast to show a pulse this summer was ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, helped by a solid lead-in and the fact that it is an offshoot of a popular franchise. Things looked as bleak on the scripted side, with ABC’s Combat Hospital, Fox’s sketch comedy In the Flow With Affion Crockett and NBC’s burnoff Love Bites barely registering. Read More »

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A. Smith & Co Prods Merges With UK-Based Tinopolis Group For $100M Deal Creating Reality TV Powerhouse

Insiders are speculating the deal is worth upwards of $100 million:

London / Los Angeles – June 28, 2011 – The Tinopolis Group and A. Smith & Co. Productions announced today that the two entities have joined forces by bringing A. Smith & Co. and its decade of success developing and producing some of the most notable unscripted television programming seen around the world under the Tinopolis Group, creating a transatlantic television powerhouse. A. Smith & Co. will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity based in Los Angeles joining and working with Tinopolis Group’s other companies which include television production entity Mentorn and sports television producer Sunset + Vine. The announcement was made today by Ron Jones, Executive Chairman of Tinopolis Group, and Arthur Smith, Founder and CEO of A. Smith & Co., who will join the Tinopolis Board of Directors and continue to lead the company alongside his partner and company President, Kent Weed.

Under this agreement A. Smith & Co. becomes the leading North American television production entity within the Tinopolis organization with the ability to tap into the company’s resources on a worldwide basis. This transaction brings together the financial resources and expertise of Tinopolis, one of the UK’s leading producers of media and programming, and its primary investor, private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, and A. Smith & Co.’s leadership which has pioneered genres and delivered ratings hits such as “Paradise Hotel”, “The Swan,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Trading Spaces,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” and “Pros vs. Joes.”

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Disney Channel Tests Unscripted Waters With Celebrity-Driven ‘PrankStars’

By | Tuesday June 21, 2011 @ 3:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Disney Channel, who has built its business on scripted comedies and movies, is venturing into reality with PrankStars, a celebrity-driven hidden-camera series that sounds like CW’s upcoming H8R but with fans instead of haters. The series, whose premiere episode features … Read More »

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NBC Brings Back ‘Fear Factor’ Reality Series

By | Thursday June 2, 2011 @ 3:47pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Every time there is a regime change at NBC, a canceled reality staple is brought back for another go. After Ben Silverman took over the network, he resurrected the then-recently yanked The Apprentice. Now, under new boss Bob Greenblatt, the … Read More »

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SIMON COWELL: My Exclusive Interview; He Reveals America’s ‘The X Factor’ Judges; But Will It Turn Into ‘The ZZZZZZ Factor’?

I’ll have more from my exclusive interview with Simon Cowell later tonight. But, for now, I can report that Cowell has told me all about how he’s been assembling his judge’s panel for his U.S. version of The X Factor which debuts this fall on Fox. “First of all, it’s like casting a dinner party. You’ve got to have people on the panel you get on well with.” But in my opinion this is sounding like the most boring dinner party ever and I wouldn’t bother staying tuned through dessert. Though recently he admitted that the process has shown publicly “complete and utter indecisiveness”, he made it clear to me he has finally decided on his judging panel.

Cowell tells me that in addition to himself and Antonio “L.A.” Reid, the chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group who resigned to join The X Factor panel on Fox (and about whom Simon said “was my No. 1 choice to sit alongside me on the show”), he has made up his mind to bring back Paula Abdul beside him and to add a Brit singer convicted of assault who’s unknown to American audiences, Cheryl Cole. Of course, Cowell was once an unknown here, too. I understand from Cowell that negotiations for Abdul’s deal haven’t even started and that Cole’s deal isn’t quite done yet. And of course, he could change his mind.

But an insider tells me about Cole that “she’s pretty much a shoo-in for for the show” and will be announced as a judge within less than a week. When I asked Simon about “this Cole woman” who began judging on the 5th season of Cowell’s British version of The X Factor which is now in its 8th season, he laughed at my description of her. I opined about how hard it is for UK personalities to click with U.S. audiences. Though she has her own widely imitated catchphrase there telling wannabe contestants they are “really, really luv-erly” in her incomprehensible Newcastle accent and has become a UK tabloid obsession, over here she’ll just be another nobody. (As Jennifer Lopez asked recently, “She is a singer, right?”)

But Cowell responded: “I never think about it as an American or British audience. I genuinely don’t. I think that’s what’s happened on a lot of these shows now is it’s almost like you’ve got to hire well known celebrities to be a judge. And with Cheryl, when I hired her initially, I’d only met her literally once when I offered her the job on [British] X Factor. I thought she was bright, cute, knew what she was talking about, ambitious. And you meet someone special a few times in your life.. And this girl is special. She’s just got a great ability to communicate. Shes a great judge. She’s smart. It’s just a hunch. If people take to her like the British public did, I think she’s going to do really well in America. And Fox was desperate to hire her.”

“Really?” I asked. “I heard there was pushback from Fox.”
“No, absolute opposite,” Cowell claimed. “Mike Darnell and Peter Rice will tell you they wanted her all the time, I showed a tape to Mike Darnell two years ago of a clip I’d shot in England of Cheryl and he said there and then, ‘I’d hire her now for Idol.’ They absolutely fell in love with her. In a way, the deal, it was almost conditional on Cheryl having the gig. They were desperate for her.”

“So,” I said, “wouldn’t it then be expected to have someone quote-unquote famous also on the panel besides you?”

“Yes. Very,” Simon replied. “I’ve always wanted Paula. Always been very vocal about that. I missed her the second she left the show. Always loved working with her even though she can be a pain. And I’ve been consistent about this. I don’t know what it is about her, but I’ve always clicked with her. You just have to get that chemistry, and she’s right. I’ve never found anyone better than her. I think there’s a good chance it will be her. We’ve agreed that we would meet as many people as possible, and now we’re reaching the deadline we’ve got to make the decision soon. But I think she’s got a really good shot.” 

But Cowell poo-poo’ed my suggestion that Abdul now may be too overexposed after serving as a judge on American Idol for 8 years and then departing amid a huge outcry from fans who wanted her to stay, and then moving on to headline another TV talent series as lead judge, CBS’s lame and derivative Live to Dance, which debuted in January 2011 only to be canceled after one season. Simon and Abdul are close friends and he made no secret on and off Idol that he didn’t want her to leave and that he disliked her successors, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres.

Make no mistake: I admire Simon as a consummate showman who knew exactly how to manipulate Read More »

Comments 188

Style Orders 3 Reality Series, Puts 10 More In Development

By | Tuesday April 12, 2011 @ 7:16am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Style Network today held its first upfront presentation since the channel was put under the purview of NBCU’s Lauren Zalaznick following the NBCU-Comcast merger. Style announced it has picked up Big Rich Texas with a 10-episode order. The docu-series, set to premiere in July, explores the ultra-exclusive world at the top of the Dallas social scene. It is produced by Fly on the Wall, with Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan exec producing. Two years ago, the network shot a similar series, Divas and Daughters, about Dallas socialite mothers and daughters. Also announced today are How Do I Look?, a search for the country’s worst fashion offenders hosted by Jeannie Mai, which will premiere in September; and makeover series Glam Fairy, a spinoff of Style’s flagship series Jerseylicious. The Endemol USA show, which follows New Jersey makeup artist Alexa Prisco, will premiere in October. Style also announced a development slate of 10 unscripted series. Here are the descriptions: Read More »

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Calling All Alternative TV Agents — Or Not

By | Wednesday April 6, 2011 @ 2:41am PDT

N.S. Bienstock is looking to hire a reality TV agent and is calling every midlevel-and-above rep in that specialty to defect. Just one problem: no one wants to work for that nightmare Richard Leibner. The agency still hasn’t recovered from the 2009 loss of alternative TV stand-out Eric Wattenberg to CAA. And, … Read More »

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Report: Ben Silverman Back At NBC With Reality Series

By | Sunday April 3, 2011 @ 10:44pm PDT

OK, he still is credited as an executive producer on The Office and The Biggest Loser, but Ben Silverman hasn’t been hanging around NBC headquarters much since his short reign as NBC co-chairman ended in July 2009. But according to the … Read More »

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Lionsgate TV Inks Overall Deal With Reality Producer Eli Frankel

By | Monday March 28, 2011 @ 9:03am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: As part of its push in the alternative programming arena, Lionsgate Television has signed a two-year overall deal with reality producer and development executive Eli Frankel, who most recently served as SVP of development for Magical Elves, the production … Read More »

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MTV Picks Up Two More Seasons Of ‘The Real World’

By | Wednesday March 23, 2011 @ 12:52pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It is not MTV’s flagship series anymore (that would be Jersey Shore), but The Real World continues to be a signature series for the cable channel and the show that started the current docu-reality craze. Now MTV announced it is … Read More »

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ABC Slates ‘Take The Money And Run’ Reality Series Thursdays At 8 PM

Nellie Andreeva

After promising early showings for Winter Wipeout in the challenging for ABC Thursday 8 PM slot, the network is sticking with reality in the hour for the rest of the season. After Winter Wipeout finishes its run, ABC will launch … Read More »

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Pac-Man Reality Series In The Works

By | Thursday January 13, 2011 @ 2:07pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Read More »

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Top Mexican Bounty Hunter Eyed For U.S. Reality Series

By | Thursday December 23, 2010 @ 4:33pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

How do you say Dog the Bounty Hunter in Spanish? Alfredo Arenas, the commander of the Baja California state police fugitive squad that tracks down U.S. fugitives in the area, is the subject of a potential U.S. reality series … Read More »

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NBC Teams With John De Mol & Mark Burnett For Singing Reality Series

Nellie Andreeva

In its biggest challenge to Fox’s American Idol (and X Factor), NBC has ordered The Voice of America (working title), a singing competition show from leading reality producers John de Mol (Big Brother) and Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Warner Horizon Television. The show, in which contestants vie for a recording contract, is modeled after the Dutch version of the show (The Voice of Holland), which is the country’s #1 talent competition show in Holland. More from NBC’s release: Read More »

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Solid Debut For A&E’s ‘Storage Wars’

Nellie Andreeva

Storage Unit auctions is turning to be the hottest new area in reality television. On the heels of Spike renewing its freshman Auction Hunters with a 20-episode order, the largest ever for a second season on the network, … Read More »

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Reality Producer Eddie Barbini Signs Deal With Discovery Studios

By | Tuesday November 23, 2010 @ 8:04am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Discovery Studios, the production arm of Discovery Communications, has signed a long-term overall deal with veteran reality producer Eddie Barbini of Blue Frog Pictures who will produce series and specials for the studio. Barbini is a three-time Emmy award nominee in the Outstanding Reality Program category for his work on Discovery … Read More »

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